Be Prepared for Winter Storms

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Be Prepared for Winter Storms Firefighters Sweeping Water

Getting Ready
There is a lot you can do to be ready when the rain starts to fall.

  • Review your home and business insurance, to see if you’ve got flood coverage. If you don’t, you may want to purchase a policy but act fast. There’s a 30-day delay in the effective date, so you can’t wait until it starts raining to obtain coverage.
  • Develop a family evacuation plan: where you will meet if a storm strikes, who picks up the kids at school, how you will take care of your pets, and so on. Choose a family member or friend who lives outside Southern California as a family contact, to relay information between family members in case you are separated during the storm and to let others know how you’re doing.
  • Plan evacuation routes–avoiding low-lying areas– and do a couple of test runs so the routes become familiar.
  • Stockpile emergency supplies–food, tools, medicine ... whatever you might need. Remember the ‘94 earthquake? Think “self reliance,” and you’ve got the right idea. Be sure to review our checklist of suggested supplies. Don’t forget sandbags and a tarp or plastic sheeting.
  • Clean up around your home or business. Trim trees, and clear out rain gutters, as well as any pool, lawn or patio drainage systems. Run a hose through the drains for 15 minutes to be sure they’re clear.
  • Check the roof–and repair any worn spots NOW.
  • Take photos of your home, inside and out, to document its contents and condition, keep these with your important documents.
  • Refill any prescriptions, so you have a one-month supply.
  • Be sure your pets are vaccinated.
  • Take American Red Cross first aid and CPR classes.

Emergency Checklist
Essential supplies you should set aside this winter–so you can get to them quickly at your home, your business, or in your cars:

  • Battery-run radio & alarm clock
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Bottled/stored water for 14 days
  • Non-perishable food for 3-5 days
  • First aid kits (car & home)
  • Prescription & non-prescription drugs
  • Clothing & bedding (raingear & water resistant boots)
  • Necessities for babies & pets
  • Entertainment (games, books)
  • Sanitation supplies (toilet paper, paper towels, chlorine bleach etc.)
  • Tools & supplies (paper cups, utility knife, hammer, matches, etc.)
  • Crow bar, work gloves, hard-sole boots, dry socks
  • Important family documents in waterproof container
  • Manual can & bottle openers
  • Ice chest & ice or frozen ice packs
  • Camp stove or canned heat stove, & fuel for 3 days
  • Plywood and nails to protect windows
  • Sandbags
  • Tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Cash (ATMs may not be working!)
  • Driver’s license or other proof of residence

Getting Through the Storm
Whenever a storm arrives, you can stay safe and relatively dry.

  • When weather advisory is issued, watch your local news station or tune in to a news radio station for regular updates.
  • Head home–or to your prearranged evacuation location–as soon as possible. If you must be in your car, be sure you have emergency supplies with you, keep your gas tank full, and tell someone your route, destination and anticipated arrival time.
  • High water warnings? Do not walk through high water! Move to higher ground, and away from rivers, creeks and storm drains. DO NOT drive around barricades. As little as two feet of water can set a vehicle afloat–even a bus–so take the barricades seriously.
  • If your car stalls out in high water, leave it and head to higher ground–FAST! It only takes six inches of fast-moving water to knock a person down.
  • Place sandbags around your property and against vulnerable doorways, to help protect your home or business. Your local fire department can supply sandbags and tell you how to use them.
  • If winds are high, stay indoors and away from windows. Stay in the building’s lowest level unless it’s susceptible to flooding, or in a small, protected space.
  • In a lightning storm, DO NOT seek shelter under trees–lightning seeks out tall objects. Instead, squat as low to the ground as you can, away from trees and power lines, but don’t lie down. Inside, stay away from windows, don’t use the telephone or electric appliances, and don’t use metal objects. Turn off all electrical items. Stay out of the swimming pool!
  • If you’re near the coast, DO NOT head to the water’s edge to watch the waves. A three-foot swell can produce a six-foot wave...and wind-driven waves can accelerate rapidly. The view isn’t worth the risk.
  • If you and your family are evacuated, take your pre-packed emergency supplies, a change of clothes, extra blankets and sleeping bags, your insurance documents and other important papers. Lock your windows, doors, and turn off the utilities. If local news predicts heavy winds nail plywood over the windows. Contact your kennel or Humane Society shelter for information on how to take care of your pets. Health reasons prohibit pets from staying in evacuation centers.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, if there’s an immediate threat to life or property...DIAL 9-1-1 or your community’s local emergency number. But don’t use 9-1-1 or the emergency number for a non-emergency – you’ll just delay the handling of real emergencies. That can cost lives.

After the storm has passed
What to do once the storm has passed and cleaning up after the storm

  • If your property has flooded, disconnect appliances that are still plugged in until the ground is completely dry.
  • Ventilate the building to speed the drying process.
  • Do not stand in water when operating switches or using electrical cords.
  • Wear dry, rubber-soled shoes and stand on something non-conductive (wood works best) when resetting circuit breakers.
  • Do not let your children go barefoot or play in standing water.
  • Do not drink tap water if authorities issue a “boil water order.” Use bottled or stored water for cooking, drinking, dish washing and for your pets until authorities say the water supply is clean.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately to your local power company.
  • Do not use any gas appliance that has been flooded until it’s checked by the gas utility or a qualified appliance contractor. Immediately report any gas line breaks to your local gas utility, and don’t turn your gas back on until the utility company issues an all-clear.
  • NEVER cook indoors with a charcoal or gas grill: the fumes can be deadly.
  • Take pictures of any damage before you start to clean up, then make temporary repairs until you consult with your insurance company and begin permanent repairs. Document what you do to repair your property, and keep receipts for every purchase.
  • If you must move out while your home is repaired, secure all entrances to prevent vandalism or injuries.

More information may be obtained from the following websites:

Ready.gov: Safety and Preparedness

CDC: Emergency Preparedness & Response